I love living in the future.
Let me explain. I was born in 1956, one of the cohort who hit the age of 56 this year. I've always been a science fiction fan, which is how I first heard of Ada Lovelace. Not that she's a science fictional character, of course - she was a real life nineteenth century mathematician, Lord Byron's daughter.
She wrote what is (more or less) an algorhythm for Babbage's analytical engine, which was (more or less) the first computer, so she was (more or less) the first computer programmer. She's also therefore a hero of the steampunk corner of science fiction, which envisages an alternative nineteenth century where they developed clockwork and steam powered computers and other retro-futuristic machines. Her "day" - October 16th, Ada Lovelace Day - is all about celebrating the women in STEM - science, technology, engineering and maths.
I trained in drama and English originally but finished up working in tax and regulation, so I just about make it into "STEM" in the maths category by virtue of my tax inspector training. So here I am, a STEM worker and science fiction fan, living in a future we never envisaged. And I love it.
When I joined the workforce people were still telling girls in the creative industries to learn secretarial skills first, for your entry level job.
So I learned to type, using manual typewriters, carbon paper and tippex. The future meant golfball typewriters (you could get different fonts! On the same machine!) and correction tape - you could delete the mistyped letter! Almost invisibly! And I could bore for England about my proud history of passing the Civil Service Typing Exam - where you had to type a table. On a manual typewriter. Where you had to draw the lines with a biro and a clever trick of using the notch in the metal ruler that held the paper onto the platen.
Then there are the phones. I haven't worn a watch, carried a torch or a camera, looked at an A-Z for years because my mobile does it all. The first phone we ever had back in the sixties was on a party line so you never knew whether someone else would be speaking when you picked up the receiver. And a phone box needed coins, and you pressed Button A or Button B depending on whether you wanted your call to connect or your money back.
But now? I might not use my phone AS a phone for months on end. But it's in my hand or in my pocket (or lying next to me on the desk as I write, connected umbilically to the computer to charge up) all day and all night now. I'm constantly texting with my hearing-impaired mother as that's easier for both of us than trying to yell to other parts of the house, and I keep in touch with far-flung friends and relatives by phone or text or email or skype or facebook or twitter or blogs. When I was a student in the seventies, it was a queue for the phone for a weekly phone call, and the school friends who went to different unis, well, you might see them at Christmas.
I started my professional career in education, where I learned on a BBC Computer that if you typed "hello" onto the screen, the computer didn't know to say "good morning" back at you like it did on Knight Rider.
But then it was 1984: Big Brother wasn't watching you, but Big Sister - Margaret Thatcher - might have been. And I was 28 on the 28th of the month in 1984 and it had always seemed that would be a Big Significant Birthday and What Was I Doing With My Life living in a small town and teaching drama to teenagers?
So I packed in my job and moved to London and started living in the future. I graduated to a double-disc drive Amstrad with a dial up compuserve connection and discovered mailing lists, scoring a ticket for Keanu Reeves' Hamlet in Winnipeg from my desk in London by the power of a friendly local tip off from the mailing list and an international phone call.
I started at the Inland Revenue in 1986, when an add-lister (a calculator with a paper roll in it) was cutting edge, the computer was a giant mainframe somewhere else, something that you had clerical staff to deal with, and most of your work was done on special lined paper called 174D paper (you can still wring a nostalgic tear from tax inspectors of a certain age by mentioning 174D to them.) I remember teaching colleagues to use Excel by showing them how to use the number keypad as a sort of add lister... and that you could then order the results by size or date at one click as if by magic!
So, thanks Ada. The computer has changed my world, so much that - although it's a cliche to say it, I actually do have more computing power in my back pocket than Armstrong and Aldrin had when they went to the moon.
Now can I please have my robot butler to look after the house while I take my flying car to moonbase alpha?
Follow Wendy Bradley on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@wendybradley